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Narodowe Siły Zbrojne (English National Armed Forces, NSZ) was an anti-Soviet and anti-Nazi paramilitary organization[1] which was part of the Polish resistance movement in World War II, fighting the Nazi German occupation of Poland in the General Government, and later the Soviet puppet state known as the Polish People's Republic.

Contents

History

The NSZ was created on September 20, 1942, as a result of the merger of the Military Organization Lizard Union (Organizacja Wojskowa Związek Jaszczurczy) and part of the National Military Organization (Narodowa Organizacja Wojskowa). At its maximum strength it reached approximately between 70,000 and 75,000 members, making it the third largest organization of the Polish resistance (after the Armia Krajowa and the Bataliony Chlopskie). NSZ units participated in the Warsaw Uprising.

In March 1944, the NSZ split with the more moderate faction coming under the command of the Armia Krajowa. The other part of the organization became known as the NSZ-ZJ (after "Związek Jaszczurczy" or the "Salamander Union"). This branch of the NSZ conducted operations against Polish and Jewish members of Polish communist secret police, Soviet-controlled NKVD, and SMERSH, and their own former leaders that claimed dozens of victims.[2]

While one article in the Encyclopedia of the Holocaust asserts that hundreds of Polish Jews who had sought asylum amongst the Polish population, after having escaped from the ghettos, were murdered by the NSZ,[3] a number of prominent members of the NSZ made personal efforts to aid and hide Jews.[4] Similarly, many National Armed Forces soldiers and their families are credited with saving lives of countless Jews including Maria Bernstein, Leon Goldman, Jonte Goldman, Dr. Turski, and others. NSZ had many Jews in its ranks including: Calel Perechodnik, Wiktor Natanson, Captain Roman Born-Bornstein (chief physician of the Chrobry II unit), Jerzy Zmidygier-Konopka, Feliks Pisarewski-Parry, Eljahu [Aleksander] Szandcer, nom de guerre "Dzik", Dr Kaminski, a physician who served in the NSZ unit lead by Capt. Wladyslaw Kolacinski, nom de guerre "Zbik", and others.

In January 1945, the NSZ Holy Cross Mountains Brigade (Brygada Świętokrzyska) retreated before the advancing Red Army, and after negotiating temporary cease fire with Germans moved into the Nazi-controlled (Czech) Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. However, it resumed operations against the Nazis again on May 5, 1945 in Bohemia, where the NSZ brigade liberated prisoners from a Nazi concentration camp in Holiszowo, including 280 Jewish women prisoners.[5] The brigade suffered heavy casualties.

In 1947, Maria Bernstein, a Jew who survived Nazi occupation wrote on behalf of condemned to death by the Communist court NSZ soldier Jerzy Zakulski. Her notorized letter reads: "Jerzy Zakulski, formerly residing with his now deceased father Ludwik [Zakulski], at 7 Saint Kinga Street [pol. Ulica Swietej Kingi 7] in Krakow Pogorze, provided me with shelter in his apartment when I escaped with my 3-year old child during a night from the Ghetto [...] After some time they managed to secure a safe place for us at the Zofia Strycharska’s [his wife's family] place, where along with my child I survived in [the city of] Myslenice until the end of the war. I am furnishing this statement under oath, because I am grateful to them for saving my life while endangering their own. (-) Maria Bleszynska (formerly Bernstein) [...] Emil Stapor, Notary." As one of countless NSZ soldiers murdered by the communist regime, Jerzy Zakulski was executed on July 31, 1947.

Political stance

The NSZ occupied the right of center of the political spectrum. Its program included the fight for Polish independence against the Nazi Germany as well as against the Stalinist Soviet Union, with its focus on keeping the Second Polish Republics pre-war eastern territories and borders while regaining additional former German territories to the west which they deemed "ancient Slavic lands". The General Directive Nr. 3 of the National Armed Forces General Command, L. 18/44 from January 15, 1944, reads: "In the face of crossing of Polish boarders by Soviet forces, the Polish Government in London and its Polish citizens living on the territory of Poland express their unwavering desire for the return of the sovereignty to the entire area of Poland within the Polish boarders established prior to 1939 through the mutually-binding Treaty of Rysk and reaffirmed by the general principles of the Atlantic Charter, as well as by the declarations of the Allied governments which did not concede to any territorial changes that took place in Poland after August 1939."

During the war, the NSZ fought the Polish communists including their Soviet NKVD-controlled paramilitary organizations such as the Gwardia Ludowa (GL) and the Armia Ludowa (AL).[6]. After the war former NSZ members were persecuted by the newly installed communist government of the People's Republic of Poland. Reportedly, communist partisans engaged in planting false evidence like documents and forged receipts at the sites of their own robberies in order to blame the NSZ.[7 ] It was a method of political warfare practiced against NSZ also by Polish secret police (UB) and Milicja Obywatelska (MO) right after the war as revealed by PRL court documents.[7 ]

Due to policy of non-cooperation with the Soviets, and unlike Home Army (AK), which was completely transparent to communist security services, NSZ remained an independent and secret military and political power also after Poland was taken over by the Soviet Red Army and the communist Polish forces under Soviet control. The NSZ described and evaluated the communist activities in the following way:

"One can die by the method proven in Katyn, that is by a single shot in the back of the head, or in the Soviet Forced Labour Camps, or in German Nazi concentration camps (...) there is no real difference in the way one dies (...) therefore it is our duty to stamp out the Soviet agents in Poland. This is simply demanded by the Polish reasons of state."

Post-war persecution and later rehabilitation

The members of NSZ, as other cursed soldiers, and their families, were persecuted during the Stalinist period after the war. In Autumn 1946, a group of 100-200 soldiers of NSZ unit under command of Henryk Flame, nom de guerre "Bartek," were lured into a trap and then massacred by Polish communist police and Polish army units loyal to the communist government in Warsaw.[8] However, in 1992, after Poland regained independence from the Soviet occupation, the National Armed Force underground soldiers were rehabilitated and given the official status of war veterans, receiving pensions and decorations.

Commanders:

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Richard C. Lukas. The Forgotten Holocaust: The Poles Under German Occupation, 1939-1944. University Press of Kentucky, 1986. Page 81.
  2. ^ David Cesarani, Sarah Kavanaugh. Holocaust: Critical Concepts in Historical Studies. Routledge, 2004, page 119.
  3. ^ Israel Gutman, Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, Page 1032
  4. ^ Chodkiewicz, Marek Jan, "Between Nazis and Soviets", pp.178-179
  5. ^ Antonin Bohun Dabrowski in "Out of the Inferno: Poles Remember the Holocaust" edited by Richard Lukas, pg 22. [1]
  6. ^ Piotrowski, Tadeusz, "Poland's Holocaust" , pg 95
  7. ^ a b Gontarczyk, Piotr, PPR - Droga do władzy 1941-1944" pg. 347
  8. ^ Rzeczpospolita, 02.10.04 Nr 232, Wielkie polowanie: Prześladowania akowców w Polsce Ludowej (Great hunt: the persecutions of AK soldiers in the People's Republic of Poland), last accessed on 7 June 2006

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